Writing a business book that is funny and useful is REALLY tough to do. The Peter Principle qualifies, so does Up the Organization, and so does my all time favorite business book on anything, Orbiting the Giant Hairball. But most books that attempt this trick end-up as big flops. A brand new book is coming out this week that is so funny and useful that belongs in the esteemed company of such masterpieces. I Hate People: Kick Loose from the Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your Job presents a compelling recipe for navigating through the kinds of people in the workplace that make us all miserable. Authors Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon call these jerks, losers, and time-suckers "The Ten Least Wanted." Examples include "Stop Sign," "Flim-Flam," "Bulldozer," and one of my least favorite "Smiley Face." The book is filled with all kinds of testsfor assessing how much you hate people, how many of these difficult people you must deal with, and more important, it is filled with great advice about how to survive and thrive among these creeps and losers.
They are also doing a host of funny and effective stuff to give readers a taste of the book, or to help people who read the book dig into the ideas more. Check out their blog, I Hate People... But It's Nothing Personal, especially check out their silly conversation about how "Smiley Face" bosses express insincere passion as they screw-up people's lives. I also loved their post on Brits Have the Shortest Fuse. And if you are really lucky, you can get an "I Hate People" Do Not Disturb sign from them somehow.. I brought them home to my three teenagers on Friday, and now one hangs from each of their doors.
Jonathan and Marc have written a great book, I believe, because they have different skills, but see the world in the same way. Jonathan is an experienced writer and author, notably joining Tom Kelley to write their IDEO-inspired books The Art of Innovation and Ten Faces of Innovation, and Jonathan has done a lot of serious journalism too,. In fact, he has spent a great deal of time over the past couple years writing about steroid scandals in sports. Marc is a wildly creative guy, perhaps most well-known for is work inventing the names of famous things such as the BlackBerry and Swiffer, but he also does and teaches stand-up comedy, produces cartoons for newspapers, and writes screenplays for movies, especially for the Hallmark channel... to name just some of the creative stuff he does. The book is written in a consistent and persistently funny voice that reflects the quirks and skills of these two very talented people.
Finally, I Hate People has one of the funniest endorsement's I've ever seen. Comedian Dana Carvey says "Ironically, I hate the people who wrote this book." I would also add that much as Arthur Bell's blurb suggest, this is the rare book that is clever and funny -- as you laugh along with Jonathan and Marc, you realize that their analysis and solutions are actually deeper and more useful than the piles of management books out their that take themselves far more seriously -- indeed, when I read it a few months back for the first time when they asked me to do a blurb, I was just blown away by how clever their ideas were for dealing with, coping with, and triumphing over the parade of creeps and idiots who populate too many workplaces.
Amazon just started shipping it today, you might want to grab a copy.